My Favorite Disney Songs: #85-#81
This section of the list is our first introduction to recent Disney songs. (You can see the previous section here.)
I’m very outspoken about what I feel is a complete drop-off in terms of Disney songwriting. All the recent Disney films put in too much pop music in place of songs — either the character are singing preexisting hits, or a pop song plays over a montage — or, what’s even worse, they write a song for the movie, and then have the singer sing it over the action! Why would you do that? Have the famous person perform the song at the end. Have the characters perform the song during the film. Plus, all the recent Disney songs have just felt really weak to me, in general. I haven’t really been a huge fan of almost anything Disney has done over the past decade (save like, two movies).
That said — this portion of the list will feature two songs from recent Disney that I do actually like. I don’t think they’re as strong as some older Disney music (hence their rankings), but overall, I do like them. And we’ll also have our first Pixar entry on the list as well as two films that were featured in the previous portion of the list.
We continue with #85:
85. “When She Loved Me,” from Toy Story 2
I think we can agree that Toy Story 2 is the weakest of the Toy Story franchise. (How that was the highest rated film on Rotten Tomatoes for so long is beyond me.) And it stands to reason that this film would also have the weakest of the Randy Newman songs in it. (Though granted, the songs do decrease over the course of the series. They’re not really musicals. So that’s not really a fair point.)
This song’s strength and its weakness come from the fact that Randy Newman doesn’t perform it. It’s a good thing that he doesn’t, since it’s primarily a song about Jessie, and the female voice helps bring emotion to the moment in the film. But, a song written by Randy Newman that’s not performed by Randy Newman is just not cool. (Major props to Sarah McLachlan, though. She did a great job with it. It’s just — I love Randy.)
The song is really nice. It’s a nice lament about lost love. It works both in and out of context, which is the sign of a well-written movie song. I just don’t like is as much as as I like the rest of the songs on this list. That’s how these rankings worked — I put on a song, and, like it was magnetized, it immediately moved to the area in the rankings that I felt it belonged, and then it was a matter of finding the place where it would stop. And mostly that had to do with me playing it and going, “Well, I like it more than this one, but not this one,” so that’s where it ended up.
Seriously, though, highest rated film on Rotten Tomatoes? This is why nobody should ever take what these aggregate sites have to say seriously. (The Top 250 on IMDB is also a joke.)
84. “Almost There,” from The Princess and the Frog
Oh hey, it’s Randy again. Exactly a decade later. He really was a perfect fit for this movie. His songs are so New Orleans-infused. It wasn’t really his fault that he got stuck with a borderline racist movie. They try, but you can still see them being like, “But people don’t want to see this…” and then veering back into stereotype.
The film itself is not particularly great. It’s trying to do right and do well, and the visuals are nice, but the overall amount of stereotypes in it really diminish the final product.
The songs aren’t particularly memorable either. The instrumentals are better than the vocals. This is really the only song in the film that’s even remotely memorable. So I showed it some love. I’d probably listen to some of the other songs I ranked below it before I listened to this, but honestly, we’re splitting hairs if we get into that argument.
Overall — it’s a good song. It’s got a nice tune, it’s catchy, and it’s hopeful. What more could you ask for? (In the song. Not the movie.)
83. “Good Company,” from Oliver & Company
This song went from not being on the list at all to ending up here. And the reason for that is two-fold.
First, I hadn’t actually seen the film before I started these Disney articles, and second — I’m a sucker for kids stuff. When something is told from a child’s point of view, be it a movie or a song, or whatever, I’m there. I just like it. Skippy, Little Manhattan — “Somewhere Out There” (if only that were a Disney song…) — I love that stuff. So it makes sense that I’d gravitate to this one.
Plus the song is so simple and childlike — they have a child singing it and it sounds like something a six year old would play. Plus the lyrics are deceptively simple. I think this is one of the better songs in the Disney catalogue that nobody knows about.
82. “I See the Light,” from Tangled
I was down on this song when I first saw the film. I loved Tangled, and my one real gripe with the film (aside from the fact that it was CG-animated and not hand-drawn) was that the songs were weak. If the songs were stronger, that could have been a classic Disney film for all time. And instead it ended up as just a very good film.
This song is clearly the best in the film. There’s no denying that. And each time I listen to it, I’m reminded that despite my preconception about the songs in the film, this one actually is quite good. Though, again — it doesn’t feel quite there. For example — this is the equivalent (plot-wise) of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and “A Whole New World.” That’s what this film is supposed to be, for this movie. And the song is just not there. It works, and it’s a good song, but let’s not pretend this should be ranked higher.
81. “Oo De Lally,” from Robin Hood
This is probably the shortest song on this list (though don’t quote me on that). I hesitated allowing to go on. But honestly, it’s so damn catchy you have to.
In less than a minute, this song manages to be catchier than half the Disney songs. You don’t need more than this. It’s amazing how much this song and “Whistle-Stop” accomplish by doing so little. And they’re not even the “main” song in the film!
I stand by this ranking. Again, tell me all the songs I ranked below it will be stuck in your head as much as this one will. That’s why this is here.
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All right. Next is 80-76, which will be our final list for today (75-51 will go up tomorrow, in the same five-song increments).
Things to look out for there — well, for starters, two really famous songs are on there. And then we have another beloved song that’s from the set of Disney films that were released just after I was at the age of watching them as a child (so, the 1996-2001 set), and then a great little song that again sets up a film’s most famous song, and also there’s a final Robin Hood song.